Posted in MYSTICS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 13 October – Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa (1904-1955)

Saint of the Day – 13 October – Blessed Alexandrina/of Balazar Maria da Costa (1904-1955) Laywoman, Victim Soul, Mystic, Salesian Co-operator – best known as Blessed Alexandrina of Balazar was a Portuguese mystic and victim soul, member of the Association of Salesian Cooperators, who was born and died in Balazar (a rural parish of Póvoa de Varzim).   Alexandrina left many written works, which have been studied mainly in Italy by Father Umberto Pasquale.   On 25 April 2004 she was declared Blessed by St Pope John Paul II who stated that “her secret to holiness was love for Christ”.alexandrina-maria-da-costa-19273133-f238-406c-9714-ec619dee618-resize-750

Alexandrina Maria da Costa was born on 30 March 1904 in Balasar, Portugal.   She received a solid Christian education from her mother and her sister, Deolinda and her lively, well-mannered nature made her likeable to everyone.

Her unusual physical strength and stamina also enabled her to do long hours of heavy farm work in the fields, thus helping the family income.

When she was 12, Alexandrina became sick with an infection and nearly died, the consequences of this infection would remain with her as she grew up and would become the “first sign” of what God was asking of her – to suffer as a “victim soul”.

The consequences of sin:
When Alexandrina was 14, something happened that left a permanent imprint on her, both physically and spiritually – it gave her a face-to-face look at the horror and consequences of sin.

On Holy Saturday of 1918, while Alexandrina, Deolinda and a young apprentice were busily sewing, three men violently entered their home and attempted to sexually violate them.   To preserve her purity, Alexandrina jumped from a window, falling four metres to the ground.

Her injuries were many and the doctors diagnosed her condition as “irreversible” – it was predicted the paralysis she suffered would only get worse.

Until age 19, Alexandrina was still able to “drag herself” to church where, hunched over, she would remain in prayer, to the great amazement of the parishioners.   With her paralysis and pain worsening, however, she was forced to remain immobile and from 14 April 1925 until her death – approximately 30 years – she would remain bedridden, completely paralysed.Alexandrina_Maria_da_Costa_4

Alexandrina continued to ask the Blessed Mother for the grace of a miraculous healing, promising to become a missionary if she were healed.

Little by little, however, God helped her to see that suffering was her vocation and that she had a special call to be the Lord’s “victim”.   The more Alexandrina “understood” that this was her mission, the more willingly she embraced it.

She said: “Our Lady has given me an even greater grace, first, abandonment, then, complete conformity to God’s will, finally, the thirst for suffering”.

Mission to suffer with Christ:
The desire to suffer continued to grow in her the more her vocation became clear, she understood that she was called to open the eyes of others to the effects of sin, inviting them to conversion and to offer a living witness of Christ’s passion, contributing to the redemption of humanity.

And so it was that from 3 October 1938 until 24 March 1942, Alexandrina lived the three-hour “passion” of Jesus every Friday, having received the mystical grace to live in body and soul Christ’s suffering in his final hours.   During these three hours, her paralysis was “overcome” and she would relive the Stations of the Cross, her movements and gestures accompanied by excruciating physical and spiritual pain.   She was also diabolically assaulted and tormented with temptations against the faith and with injuries inflicted on her body.

Human misunderstanding and incredulity were also a great cross for her, especially when those she most expected would “assist” her – members and leaders of the Church – were adding to her crucifixion.

An investigation conducted by the Curia of Braga resulted in a circular letter written by the Archbishop which contained a series of “prohibitions” regarding Alexandrina’s case. It was the result of a negative verdict made by a commission of priests.

In addition and by way of spiritual comfort, after her spiritual director, a Jesuit priest who had helped her from 1934 to 1941, stopped assisting her, a Salesian priest, Fr Umberto Pasquale, came to her aid in 1944.

Nourished only by the Eucharist:
On 27 March 1942, a new phase began for Alexandrina which would continue for 13 years and seven months until her death.   She received no nourishment of any kind except the Holy Eucharist, at one point weighing as few as 33 kilos (approximately 73 pounds).bl alexandrina eucharist.jpg

Medical doctors remained baffled by this phenomenon and began to conduct various tests on Alexandrina, acting in a very cold and hostile way towards her.   This increased her suffering and humiliation but she remembered the words that Jesus himself spoke to her one day: “You will very rarely receive consolation…  I want that while your heart is filled with suffering, on your lips there is a smile”.

As a result, those who visited or came into contact with Alexandrina always found a woman who, although in apparent physical discomfort, was always outwardly joyful and smiling, transmitting to all a profound peace.   Few understood what she was deeply suffering and how real was her interior desolation.

Fr Pasquale, who stayed close to Alexandrina throughout these years, ordered Alexandrina’s sister to keep a diary of her words and her mystical experiences.alex and fr pascuale art_004.jpg

In 1944, Alexandrina became a member of the “Union of Salesian Cooperators” and offered her suffering for the salvation of souls and for the sanctification of youth.   She kept a lively interest in the poor as well as in the spiritual health of those who sought out her counsel.

“Do not offend Jesus anymore!’:
As a “testimony” to the mission to which God had called her, Alexandrina desired the following words written on her tombstone:   “Sinners, if the dust of my body can be of help to save you, come close, walk over it, kick it around until it disappears.   But never sin again, do not offend Jesus anymore!   Sinners, how much I want to tell you…. Do not risk losing Jesus for all eternity, for He is so good.   Enough with sin.   Love Jesus, love Him!”.   Below is her Tomb, the Church where it resides in Balaza and her room for 30 years.

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Alexandrina died on 13 October 1955.   Her last words:  “I am happy, because I am going to Heaven”. … Vatican.va

beatification bl alezandrina
In Ireland there is an Alexandrina Society that spreads knowledge of her life and teachings.  The aims of the Society are 1) To spread devotion to Alexandrina and make her known, 2) To pray for the conversion of sinners, 3) To pray for Priests and acknowledge any favours received, 4) To pray for members’ intentions. Amen.

Posted in MYSTICS, One Minute Reflection, QUOTES on GRACE, QUOTES on OBEDIENCE, SAINT of the DAY, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 6 October – ‘Serving the Lord’

One Minute Reflection – 6 October – Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Luke 17:5–10 and the Memorial of St Mary Frances of the Five Wounds (1715-1791)

‘Prepare supper for me’ ...Luke 17:8

REFLECTION – “To believe is not simply to sit back and wait until the Lord comes and serves us with His grace.   Faith receives it’s incomprehensible efficacy (tossing a tree into the ocean), in the course of serving the Lord, who, after all, has become the servant of us all and cannot stand to see anyone lazily let himself be served by Him (sola fides). Instead, He takes it as self-evident, that His followers serve alongside Him, which really means they serve Him, for “where I am, there will my servant also be” (Jn 12:26).
Moreover, this serving does not take place in haughty pride over how useful to the Lord my co-service may be (as if He could not do anything without me).   Just the opposite, in modesty, the servant knows the words of Jesus – “Without me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).
Since He has already done everything for us, the correct estimation of ourselves, is the one commanded by the Lord Himself and expressed in the Confession – “We are useless servants, we have only done our duty.”Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988)luke 17 8 - to believe is not simply to sit back and wait - hans urs von balthasar 6 oct 2019.jpg

PRAYER – Almighty, ever-living God, whose love surpasses all that we ask or deserve, guide us to perfect obedience to conform ourselves to Your holy will, that in the manner of St Mary Frances, our only wish may be to serve and find You.   May we always serve in modesty and humility and know that only in Your Son, are we complete.   May the prayers of St Mary Frances of the Five Wounds be a source of strength on our journey home.   Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God for all eternity, amen.st mary frances of the five wounds pray for us 6 oct 2019.jpg

Posted in MYSTICS, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SUNDAY REFLECTIONS, The HOLY EUCHARIST

Sunday Reflection – 6 October – From the Host

Sunday Reflection – 6 October – Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

“I heard these words from the Host:

I desired to rest in your hands,
not only in your heart.”

Jesus to St Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938)
Diary 160

i-heard-these-words-from-the-host-st-faustina-diary-160-13-may-2018 and 6 Oct 2019.jpg

Posted in FRANCISCAN, MYSTICS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 6 October – Saint Mary Frances of the Five Wounds TOSF (1715-1791)

Saint of the Day – 6 October – Saint Mary Frances of the Five Wounds TOSF (1715-1791) – Virgin, Third Order Franciscan, Mystic, Stigmatist, Apostle of Charity, born Anna Maria Gallo on 25 March 1715 at Naples, Italy and died on 6 October 1791 at Naples, Italy of natural causes.   Patronages – Quartieri Spagnoli of Naples (co-patronof the Gallo World Family Foundation, expectant mothers, women seeking to have children.st mary Francesca5p

She was born the daughter of Francesco Gallo and Barbara Basinsin, in the Quartieri Spagnoli (Spanish Quarter) of Naples, a red-light district of the city, still known for its high crime.   According to tradition, another saint, the Jesuit, Francis de Geronimo (1642-1716), predicted her future sanctity while she was still an infant.   Her family was of the middle class but her father, a weaver of gold lace, was a very violent man, who regularly abused his family physically, often severely.

When Gallo was sixteen, her father attempted to force her into a marriage with a young man of means, who was seeking her hand.   She refused and asked to join the Franciscan Third Order, through which she could live out a religious life in the family home.   The friars of Naples were part of the reform of St Peter of Alcantara and they and the tertiaries under their rul,e were known for the strictness of their lives.   Through the intervention of a friar, Father Theophilus, permission to enter the Order was eventually granted by her father.

Gallo was received into the Order on 8 September 1731 and began wearing the religious habit of the Order, which was an uncommon practice during that time. She also adopted the use of the religious name she took upon being received into the Order, out of her devotion to the Blessed Mother, St Francis of Assisi and the Passion of Christ.    She continued to live in the family home to serve God as a consecrated virgin, as was customary in those days.St Mary Francis of the Five Wounds of Jesus 1

She took as her spiritual director, the Franciscan friar, St John Joseph of the Cross OFM  (1654–1739), while her confessor was the Barnabite priest, Francis Xavier Bianchi and she began to be known among her neighbours for her work of charity, helping the poor of the sector.   She was a person of deep prayer, often spending long hours in meditation.

In 1753 she joined with another Franciscan tertiary, known only as Maria Felice and they moved into a small palace owned by a priest, Giovanni Pessiri, who became their spiritual director.   The two women occupied the second floor, sleeping on the floor and the priest the floor above.   She is said to have received the wounds of the stigmata while living there and suffered patiently many physical afflictions and spiritual trials.   She would wear gloves to cover the marks on her hands, while she did her work.   She is also said to have had visions of Saint Raphael the Archangel, who healed her of several afflictions.img-Saint-Mary-Frances-of-the-Five-Wounds-of-Jesus

Mary Frances was buried in the Franciscan Church of Santa Lucia al Monte in Naples, which she attended during her life.   This church also contains the tomb of John Joseph, now also declared a saint.

Mary Frances was declared Venerable by Pope Pius VII, on 18 May 1803.   She was Beatified by Pope Gregory XVI on 12 November 1843 and Canonised by Pope Pius IX on 29 June 1867.

Santa_Maria_Francesca_of_the_Five_Stigmata_-_Santa_Chiara_-_Naples_-_Italy_2015
Statue in Santa Chiara, Naples

Devotion to Mary Frances has long continued to be strong in the neighbourhood where she lived and of which she is the patron saint.   The residents credit her intercession with the little damage the sector endured during World War II, when over 100 bombs were dropped on it.   Her home has been preserved as a chapel and museum.

Pope Pius IX, who Canonised Mary Frances, declared her to be a patroness of expectant mothers and of women having difficulty conceiving.   She is also the patroness of the Gallo World Family Foundation, which was founded to promote the development of Judeo-Christian values, for the betterment of the world, by members of the Gallo family scattered worldwide.Saint Mary Frances of the Five Wounds statue

On 6 October 2001, her remains were transferred from the Church of Santa Lucia to the house where she had spent the last half of her life.   It is now the Shrine of St Mary Frances of the Five Wounds.

It is still a common practice for expectant mothers to go there to be blessed with her relic.   Many votive offerings from mothers who credit her with their successful deliveries are displayed in the sanctuary.St Mary Francis of the Five Wounds of Jesus

Posted in CATHOLIC-PRAYERS OF THE CHURCH, DIVINE MERCY, MYSTICS, PRACTISING CATHOLIC, PRAYERS of the CHURCH, PRAYERS of the SAINTS, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on HOPE, QUOTES on TRUST in GOD, SAINT of the DAY, St Pope JOHN PAUL

Thought for the Day – 5 October – Christ Jesus, I trust in you! 

Thought for the Day – 5 October – The Memorial of St Maria Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938)

And you, Faustina, a gift of God to our time, a gift from the land of Poland to the whole Church, obtain for us an awareness of the depth of divine mercy, help us to have a living experience of it and to bear witness to it among our brothers and sisters.

May your message of light and hope spread throughout the world, spurring sinners to conversion, calming rivalries and hatred and opening individuals and nations to

the practice of brotherhood.

Today, fixing our gaze with you on the Face of the risen Christ, let us make our own your prayer of trusting abandonment and say with firm hope:

Christ Jesus, I trust in you!   Jezu, ufam tobie!

(From St John Paul’s Canonisation Homily, St Peter’s Square, 30 April 2000)

christ jesus i trust in you 5 oct 2019 st faustina

The red and pale white rays, emanating from the Heart of Jesus, in the Image of Divine Mercy represent the blood and water, which gushed forth from His pierced Heart on Good Friday.   Jesus asked that all who venerate His mercy, honour His Passion, by remembering Him with this prayer, at 3 O’Clock in the afternoon.

Divine Mercy 3 O’Clock Prayer
St Faustina Kowalska (1905–1938)

You expired, O Jesus,
but the source of life
gushed forth for souls
and an ocean of mercy
opened up for the whole world.
O Fount of Life,
unfathomable Divine Mercy,
envelop the whole world
and empty Yourself out upon us.
O Blood and Water,
which gushed forth
from the Heart of Jesus
as a fount of mercy for us,
I trust in You.
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St Faustina Kowalska, Pray for Us!st faustina pray for us 5 oct 2019 no 2

Posted in DOMINICAN, MYSTICS, SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 4 September – Be imprinted in our hearts, Lord

Thought for the Day – 4 September – Wednesday of the Twenty-second week in Ordinary Time, Year C and the Memorial of Blessed Catherine of Racconigi OP (1486-1547)

Just as the Carmelites have their many famous Teresas so too do the Dominicans have their Catherines – St Catherine of Alexandria (c287-c305) (by adoption as patroness of the Order), St Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) Doctor of the Church, St Catherine de Ricci (1522-2590), Bl Catherine Jarrige (1754-1836) and Bl Catherine of Racconigi, today’s saint. Most of these Catherine’s were espoused to the Lord.   Many of them received crowns of thorns.   They all showed the greatness of God’s grace to draw hearts close to Him.

Aside from being espoused to the Lord at the age of five and aside from receiving the stigmata and a crown of thorns, Bl Catherine of Racconigi is a prime example of Christ drawing hearts close to Him.   Several times the Lord appeared to her and took her heart so that He might cleanse and beautify it.   Moreover, as the tradition holds, the words Jesu, spes mea –“Jesus, my hope!”–were inscribed on her heart in letters of gold.   Christ loves His virgin brides.   The tokens that He has given them, especially to the saintly Dominicans cloistered nuns and active sisters, shows that He desires nothing but union with souls.   Sometimes, this means sharing in the hardships of His Passion.   For Bl Catherine, this meant a life of destitute poverty, abandonment by many friends at death and even the challenge of being deprived of her confessor before she died.   Yet, through it all, her Hope–Christ the Lord, drew her to Himself, where she is now in perfect happiness in heaven.

O Lord, our Hope, who did enrich with an abundance of celestial gifts, the heart of Blessed Catherine, already filled with You, grant, through the intercession of that glorious Virgin, that You may be wholly fastened to our hearts, who for our sake, was wholly fastened to the cross, Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Catherine of Racconigi, Pray for Us!bl catherine of racconigi pray for us 4 sept 2019.jpg